Traffic Stops In Mashpee Rise With Emphasis On Prevention

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By: Geoff Spillane
Published: 01/06/12

Criminals beware. Flashing blue lights and cars pulled over to the side of the road have become an increasingly common sight in Mashpee.

Since the Mashpee Police Department bolstered its efforts to stop motorists for traffic and safety violations in late November, there has been a surge in the number of motor vehicle stops in town.

Over the course of New Year’s weekend—Friday, Saturday, and Sunday—95 motor vehicle stops were recorded on the town’s roadways, according to the MPD. By comparison, neighboring Falmouth, with more than twice the population and land area of Mashpee, had 38 motor vehicle stops registered in its police logs for the same 72-hour period.

The 95 holiday weekend motor vehicle stops netted one arrest, two citations, and one criminal complaint application, according to information provided by the MPD. There were 86 verbal warnings issued, three written warnings issued, and two instances where no further action was taken.

For the comparable three-day period last New Year’s weekend, there were 43 motor vehicle stops in Mashpee. During last summer’s July Fourth weekend, which consisted of four days since the holiday fell on a Monday, there were 60 motor vehicle stops in town.

“The number of motor vehicle stops are up, and will continue to be up,” Mashpee Police Chief Rodney C. Collins said in an interview this week.

Chief Collins said that the theory behind the enhanced police presence is that by being more proactive and visible on the streets, there is increased likelihood that suspicious activity will be detected, and criminals apprehended. “We’re looking beyond the traffic ticket. A stop for a minor infraction could lead to apprehending an individual with outstanding court warrants or the seizure of drugs, stolen property, or weapons,” he said.

Chief Collins noted that there is no quota of traffic stops that officers must meet. He would not share the communication he had with his officers that led to the increase in motor vehicle stops, but did say it was a reaction to a recent crime wave in town that included vandalism and home, business, and car burglaries. “We’ve shifted emphasis to preventing crime instead of investigating crime,” he said.

Chief Collins said he is not worried about the number of stops each officer conducts as long as they are valid and conform with legal and constitutional requirements.

When asked if he is concerned about public sentiment that may result from the aggressive push, Chief Collins said that the department is trying to enhance the quality of life in Mashpee. “If you have done nothing wrong, you have nothing to worry about,” he said.

Chief Collins emphasized that treating people with courtesy, dignity, and professionalism is a top priority for the force and that he has not heard one citizen complaint since the enhanced enforcement began.

The strategy appears to have paid off, directly and indirectly, for Mashpee during the past week.

According to court documents filed by police, a Marstons Mills man was stopped on Great Neck Road North for going 30 miles per hour in a 20 mile per hour zone on Saturday evening, and was allegedly in possession of Percocet pills and cocaine.

In Wareham, a broken headlight led to the stop of a motor vehicle on Sunday, resulting in the arrest of three Mashpee men after a double-edge knife and a loaded .38 semi-automatic pistol were allegedly found in the car. Arrested were: Justin Groom, 22, of Thornberry Circle; William Branch, 21, of Holly Street; and Ryan Cushing, 23, of Main Street.

“Arrests like this prove my point,” Chief Collins said.

Town officials appear to be onboard with Chief Collins. Mashpee Town Manager Joyce M. Mason and Wayne E. Taylor, chairman of the board of selectmen, both endorsed the enhanced enforcement as a plus for public safety in town. Mr. Taylor said that he is grateful that Chief Collins has made the decision to increase police presence in town.

Selectman Michael R. Richardson said that he applauds the increased police visibility because Mashpee is a “pass through” town for contraband flowing to and from Hyannis and Falmouth.

“The word needs to get out that you need to be careful in Mashpee because the police will stop you for anything,” he said.

Selectmen Thomas O’Hara and Carol A. Sherman said that they had not noticed nor were aware of the enhanced enforcement. “The police are doing their job. Maybe it’s time to get strict; I agree with it,” Ms. Sherman said.

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